Donald McIntosh isn’t your typical politician – he’s helped to build power stations in the Philippines and worked for British Airways Engineering.

A chartered accountant in his professional life, the 60-year-old also considers himself an "old punk" outside of work, still regularly attending gigs.

He said: “The punk ethos is kind of just do it until somebody tells you you can’t.

“I’ve done business, I’m pretty good at it. I’ll throw myself into this and carry on doing it until somebody tells me I can’t and see if I can make a difference.”

Nobody is seriously expecting Mr McIntosh, who is standing for the Liberal Democrats, to win a seat in Bolton West.

The seat is not one of his party’s targets, and, if national polling is to be believed, could switch from the incumbent Conservative, Chris Green, to Labour’s Phil Brickell.

Despite joking that he’s "related to most of Scotland" – with a name inherited from his Scottish grandfather – Mr McIntosh was born in Lancaster.

However, he admits Bolton is new to him.

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Mr McIntosh says he was inspired to stand in the face of what he says is the "damage" caused by Conservative governments.

He said: “My parents were of the generation where they did exactly what the government said, isolating themselves all the way through Covid, then my mother had a fall and died around about the same time Boris was partying.

“You get to a point of- right, time to stand up and be counted.”

Mr McIntosh admits he had had a middle-class upbringing – attending a private school until the end of his GCSEs before moving on to technical college and then university – but says his family has working class roots.

“If you get back in the family, it gets very poor, very quickly.

"If you go back to my grandfather’s generation, they were very much working class.

“He worked on the docks in Liverpool, and the other side my grandfather ran a village bakery in Scotland.”

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In terms of policy priorities, Mr McIntosh says he wants to see more joined-up thinking and long-term planning, with "a safety net for those who fall through the cracks".

He said: “We’ve had a huge number of piecemeal policies left, right, and centre and sticking plasters to try and fix problems.

“If you look at an economy of, say, China – they decide that they want to dominate the electric car industry, so they go out and buy the mines with the lithium, they built the transport system across the road, it’s called the Belt and Road initiative, they built the transport infrastructure for delivering the goods, so you can put a container on a train in Beijing and it arrives in East London.

“They know exactly where they’re going for 50 years.

"What you’ve got in the case of the UK is we’ve detached ourselves from Europe and we don’t really have a vision of where we going, I don’t think, at this point in time – and none of the major parties are actually providing that type of vision.”

Mr McIntosh believes the UK’s trading relationships with the US, Canada, and EU "have to be fixed".

In the 2016 referendum, 58 per cent of valid votes cast in Bolton were for leave, with under 42 per cent for remain.

However, many will remember the Liberal Democrats as a party which not only pushed for a second referendum, but pledged to revoke Brexit entirely if it won a majority in the 2019 General Election.

Mr McIntosh said: “Would Bolton vote now in the same way? The sheer fact is that the country was lied to, it has caused economic damage.

“Everyone goes ‘oh, it’s over and done with’ – it’s a gradual thing that will be over the course of another 10 years or so, where possibly parts of the City of London will start disappearing, which means the overall UK tax take goes down. Factories have relocated.”

He added: “The problem with it is it’s done now. Lib Dem policy is to align ourselves with the single market, not the political side of things, but the single market.

“Where it’s really taken opportunity away is the younger generations.

“The younger generations did not vote for this, and they didn’t vote for it in droves.”

Younger generations may hold some bad blood towards the Lib Dems for the notorious tuition fees U-turn which has plagued the party since the coalition government.

“The situation they were facing, which was one of those periods in the UK of economic meltdown – it was a pragmatic solution, in my opinion it was a wrong solution.

“I think, also, the fact that the Lib Dems were in a coalition at the time, the Lib Dems have learnt so much from that experience and will absolutely not make any of those mistakes in the future. I think the current system is: you pay for your university, then you get taxed all through your life.

“To my mind there is a better way of actually doing this – which may be that, if you run up a loan while you’re at university and then that gets offset against the tax that you’re actually paying through your life, because you’re paying into the government.

“Then if you choose to live overseas you’ve still got the loan and you’re actually responsible for it.”

In autumn 2019, the Lib Dems said the government should run a "permanent spending surplus". Just months later, the UK deficit reached a peacetime record as the government provided billions in support throughout the pandemic.

Mr McIntosh said he didn’t think running a permanent surplus would be "a particularly sensible thing" – and that instead the focus should be on investing in the NHS.

He said: “One of the real issues in the constituency is the Royal Bolton, which is one of the few hospitals in the country that has actually got as far as ‘code black’ status, which is when ambulances get taken down to Salford.

“No matter how rich you are in this area, you are reliant on the Royal Bolton, and it’s working at somewhere around about 100 per cent capacity, over at times.

"That’s not a reflection on the people that are actually trying to do a great job in the Royal Bolton, because three out of 10 beds in the NHS are actually blocked by perfectly well people waiting for social care.

“We announced that we’re actually going to fund that properly so that you can actually get those people out, that has a knock-on effect on the back-end of the NHS.”

Mr McIntosh considers himself a "frequent flier" of various hospitals around Manchester, with visits becoming more regular after his wife was diagnosed with cancer and his son was diagnosed with an illness in the space of just three weeks.

He said: “I ended up leaving work temporarily and we had no income – I had no income and two kids, and a wife that was ill.

"The thing in the UK is it’s all great, and this will apply to an awful lot of people in the constituency because they’re very comfortably off – there’s Porsches in front of houses, that kind of thing.

“But it only takes one thing or two things to go wrong in life and suddenly you kind of fall off a cliff.

"I’ve been through that experience, and you go from that experience to having nil income and outgoings, you’ve still got kids at school.”

He added: “I understand exactly how suddenly you’ve got to be frugal, you’ve got to fundamentally change.

“That almost sounds like I’m belittling what’s actually happening out there – because you’ve got people up at Johnson Fold – they don’t look rich.

“There are five food banks in the constituency, of that one of those is actually at the entrance to the Loco Works, so you’ve got this juxtaposition of a food bank and brand new housing going in.

“We are one of the seven richest nations in the world, we should be able to look after our own, we shouldn’t have those disparities. The bit that really kills me is when it’s children.

“It comes back to the three things I mentioned at the start: we need a safety net to catch people when they fall and look after those that can’t look after themselves.

“We need policies that make sure people have enough money to live on and have food.”

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